On Saturday afternoon the Cincinnati Reds made it official with Tommy Pham as he passed his physical and put ink on paper. He spoke with the media in Goodyear and then took some batting practice on the backfields as the big leaguers were getting set to hit the road and face off against the San Francisco Giants.

“I looked at this team, the park, the manager – you know I have a great history with DB (Reds manager David Bell),” said Pham. “I love him from my time in St. Louis. And I get to get with one of my hitting coaches, Joey Votto.”

One of the things that Tommy Pham and Joey Votto have in common is their strikezone discipline. Since the start of 2018 they rank 5th and 7th in all of Major League Baseball when it comes to not chasing pitches out of the strikezone. Votto’s 20.5% chase rate was 5th, while Pham’s 20.7% chase rate was 7th.

“Just swinging at strikes,” Pham said when asked about him increased walk rate. “Guys are just trying to strikeout hitters more and that’s just a by-product of staying in the zone.”

Early in his big league career, Pham had a quality chase rate, but he’s really taken it to an elite level over the last handful of seasons. Along with his “hitting coach” Joey Votto, hopefully Pham provides another guy to go with the younger duo of Tyler Stephenson and Jonathan India to really make pitchers work.

“I’m still expecting big things from myself within this game. This is a year for me to prove it to myself as well.”

While Tommy Pham did draw plenty of walks in each of the last two seasons he’s struggled to hit for much average. In his two seasons with the Padres he hit just .226/.335/.370. The hits just didn’t find the grass often while playing out west. A lot of the decline in his average has been from a massive drop off in his BABIP. From his debut through the end of 2019 his BABIP was .339 (and never dipping below .316 in one of those five seasons), but over the last two seasons it’s dropped down to .275. His contact rate has largely remained the same, and his walk rate has too. The power dipped a bit in San Diego, though. Great American Ball Park tends to cure small power dips, so if his BABIP can return to where it’s normally been rather than where it’s been over the last 700 plate appearances in the last two seasons it could lead to a very nice bounceback for the outfielder.

26 Responses

  1. Klugo

    He grinds out ABs. Drives pitchers crazy in the process.

  2. CFD3000

    I like that Pham wants to be in Cincinnati, as opposed to just Chasing a paycheck. Here’s hoping that GABP and JDV will help him have a big bounce back year.

  3. Optimist

    If he and India can keep OBPs above .360, Joey could hit .350 – he’ll see an a boatload of hittable pitches.

    • Dk072257

      Joey will be lucky to hit .250…. he aint the joey he was.

      • Earmbrister

        Sorry, I’m not betting against Votto.

  4. Rednat

    i love having speed at the top and bottom of the line up. you can generate a lot of pressure on the pitchers and defense that way.

    I like India and Pham at the top of the line up and Senzel and Naquin at the bottom. Still not a terrible middle of the order with Votto, Stephenson, Moose, Farmer. I don’t think we will hit a ton of homeruns this year but i think the offense may be a pleasant surprise if people stay healthy.

    • VegasRed

      Ballpark had a huge effect for castellanos and maybe the Phillies park will be good too. But Pham in GABP will get a huge jump also, he held replace Suarez power from right side.

      We’ll see, but I think he will have bounce back year. Just don’t think it will be enough to produce a winner.

      • TR

        The Phillies Citizens Bank and the Reds Great American are two of the smallest ML parks in terms of playing area.

    • CFD3000

      Even better when they can swap in Barrero instead of Farmer…

      • TR

        That’s my preference but I doubt it will happen as long as David Bell is the manager.

  5. MK

    Have to wonder what the stabbing took out of him long term. He has hadtwo less than stellar performances in a row from an average standpoint. You cut those back muscles it can really reduce power.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      This is a very good point I hadn’t considered previously.

      • Oldtimer

        Oops. TYPO by me above. Oldtimer, not Oldtiner.

    • Oldtimer

      … After the 1972 season, Bench had a growth removed from his lung. He remained productive, but never again hit 40 home runs in a season …

      Different circumstances but JB’s 1972 surgery sapped his power hitting abilities.

  6. LDS

    Hope he bounces back some. Being 34 and having a history with Bell, he’s going to get a lot of opportunities.

    • Redsvol

      Hmmm, @lds, do you think Pham is a worse outfielder than shogo, Aquino, Friedl, shrock, and fraley?

      • LDS

        Depends on whether he shakes off the last two years. Suarez hasn’t yet.

  7. kyblu50

    Please can you tell me why Cinn stop using the 5 and 2 inning approach with their minor league pitchers? I remember that it helped some of the pitchers with their working both on control and different pitches.

    I think these where of those pitchers ….Johnny Cueto and Travis Wood along with Carlos Fisher, who spent three years in the big leagues, and Zach Ward, who set the Dragons club record that season for earned run average at 2.29 (his record still stands).

  8. Joey Red

    He’s basically a stop gap player. Go to ESPN and read what he said after signing. He said all he cared about was putting up numbers. He knows there’s no future in Cincinnati but if he plays well he might hook up with a better team. And when the Reds are out of the race and he has put up decent numbers he will be traded to a contender. I admire those here who still believe and consider this guy to be a great addition. He’s a marginal player at best. It’s the Reds grasping at straws. They don’t have any sort of plan to win. None at all.

  9. RedBB

    Another guy that gets on base a lot. I like it. We have the following OBP from last year now…

    2B India RHB .376
    RF Pham RHB .340
    C Stephenson RHB .366
    1B Votto LHB .375
    DH Muostakas LHB .309 (career)
    3B Solano RHB .344
    CF Senzel RHB .308 (career)
    LF Naquin LHB .333
    SS Farmer RHB .316

    UT-Fraley .352
    UT-Moran .334
    UT-Schrock .328
    UT-Friedl .361(.366 Minors)

  10. ClevelandRedsFan

    It does seem like the Reds are moving away from the free-swinging philosophy of hitting to a more disciplined approach by dropping Suarez and targeting Pham.

    But this is most evident in the minors. Guys like India, Stephenson, Senzel, and even Winker all made the pitcher work and don’t chase much. Those guys all go opposite field as well.

    I for one love this new approach. I got really sick of watching mediocre pitchers dominate the Reds with a smart game plan and hitters who couldn’t adjust.

  11. AllTheHype

    Reds FO has constructed the roster entirely around Bell’s strengths and weaknesses. They removed the two players that Bell sorely mismanaged in the lineup last year, Suarez (whom Bell insisted should be in the middle of the lineup despite obvious evidence from 2020 onward that he should not) and Winker (whom Bell insisted on batting 2nd against LHS despite the fact that he is inept against LHP).

    And now they have added several very solid and flexible position players, Pham (R), Finley (L), Solano (R), and Moran (L) that will fit perfectly into Bell’s penchant for handedness lineups.

    Many folks here like to bash the FO. I see it much differently. To me it looks like roster construction with a plan.

    • Allan Chandler

      To me, you look like Nick Krall’s burner account. Scram.

  12. Roger Garrett

    Pham is a good signing whatever the reason on his part or the Reds part.If he stays healthy he will best last years offensive numbers just because of GABP.I don’t see it as any part of any long term plan but I am not privy to what is being said in the front office.I see money being traded along with one dimensional players and one could argue all were on the downside of their career.Of course folks know that for me its just let the young guys play as soon as possible.

  13. AMDG

    Castellanos is gone.
    Winker is gone.
    Akiyama is terrible.
    Senzel & Naquin get hurt.
    Aquino is Aquino.
    Friedl is too young for Bell to play regularly.
    Barrero should be a shortstop.

    His only real competition for playing time would be Fraley, who is older (27) and has a low career BA (0.196) which seems to be the makeup of guys Bell likes to play regularly.

    So, in Cincy, Pham likely has a window for lots of playing time. And it doesn’t hurt that he was likely offered more $ than any other team.